There are 35 species of garter snakes. These snakes are easily identified by their slim bodies that feature body-long stripes. These stripes come in a number of colors, including red, gray, orange, yellow, and green. It’s also not unheard of to find a garter snake with turquoise stripes. The underbelly scales of all garter snakes are distinctly lighter in color.
Garter snakes don’t have fangs and aren’t venomous. However, they do have a few rows of small teeth and can bite. Their bite can become infected if not cleaned and cared for properly, and some people are allergic to their saliva, although this condition is rare. Even though garter snakes are mostly harmless, they can cause quite a few problems in your home or garden. Need help identifying what snake problem you are having? Check out our Solution Finder for help with identifying and solving your snake problem.
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What Do Garter Snakes Eat?
Like all reptiles, garter snakes are cold-blooded creatures, so they are often found in locations that offer warmth and food. These slender snakes can enter your home through fairly small cracks. Garter snakes often snack on small mammals, too, such as mice, and small amphibians, such as toads and frogs.
While garter snakes can act as a natural pest control, most people who discover snakes in their home find it to be a frightening experience. Most importantly, garter snakes give off a distinct, foul smell that can infiltrate your home and some experts say garters may be one of the smelliest snakes.
While garter snakes are generally solitary creatures, they generally hibernate in large numbers to prevent heat loss and keep their bodies warm. Due to their combined smell, a large group of garter snakes in or under your home can make your residence uninhabitable.
Garter Snakes in the Yard and Garden
A few garter snakes in the garden can be a good thing. They eat insects and other pests, so they can control those pests that harm your plants. You don’t want a large number of these snakes in your garden, however.
Garter snakes will call your yard home when it provides the right conditions. When not resting, these snakes prefer moist, grassy areas and are often found near water, such as streams and lakes. They also like areas that provide cover, so if your yard has piles of debris, such as rocks, logs, boards or dense vegetation, you are more likely to have a garter snake infestation.
Gartner snakes are problematic in the yard and garden for a couple of reasons. First, most people are startled and frightened when they encounter a snake while outdoors. While generally shy and withdrawing, a garter snake will bite if you accidentally step on them. It is estimated between 1.2 and 5.5 million people get bitten by snakes each year around the world, with the largest number of bites coming from non-venomous snakes. Second, while garter snakes do eat insects, they don’t distinguish between beneficial bugs and harmful ones. So if you have a large number of garter snakes in your yard, they can do more harm than good, ultimately leaving your garden plants vulnerable.
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How to Get Rid of Garter Snakes
Whether they are a nuisance or you are just frightened by their presence, garter snakes can be driven away. Let’s look at how to get rid of snakes around the house.
Prevention is best. Go around your home and close up any cracks or holes where snakes could enter and work to make your home snake proof. There are also products you can buy, such as Victor® Snake-A-Way® or Safer Brand® Snake Shield ™ Snake Repellent. These granular formulas of snake repellents is easy to use and effective. Put on some gloves and sprinkle the granules along the perimeter you want to protect – these snakes won’t cross the line you create with the Snake-A-Way.
How are You Dealing with Your Snake Problem?
Are garter snakes a big problem for your home and yard? How are you correcting the issue? Let us know in the comments below or when you visit Havahart® on Facebook. If you have any questions about our products, contact us online or call our toll-free number 1 (855)-5-HAVAHART. For more articles on dealing with nuisance animals and special offers on our products, subscribe to our E-Newsletter.